Okay, we’re kidding about Skynet. But Qantas has flicked the switch on its ‘Next Generation Checkin’ network, which uses microchipped smartcards to replace boarding passes and RFID to track your bags.
Sydney and Perth are the first airports to get wired with the ironically-wireless system, which has been undergoing live trials in Perth from July. Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra will come online throughout the first half of 2012.
Next-Gen Checkin hinges upon a smartchip baked into the new Qantas Frequent Flyer cards, which are being rebranded as Q Cards and dispatched to the airline’s most frequent flyers (those with Silver, Gold, Platinum or glow-in-the-dark Adamantium status).
The chip will identify each passenger and their bookings, allowing the Q Card to double as an electronic boarding pass;
Swipe the card once at any of the airport’s self-service checkin kiosks and your mobile phone gets an SMS with all relevant flight information. Swipe it a second time at the boarding gate and you’re literally good to go.
Checked luggage also goes digital with ‘Q Bag Tags’ containing an RFID chip that’s linked to your Q Card and Frequent Flyer account.
Trumpeted as a ‘world first’, the e-tags can be used to dump your luggage at a bag drop point without the need to print a luggage tag if you’ve completed online or smartphone check-in. The RFID chips can also be used to speedily locate and remove bags from an aircraft’s hold if necessary, such as if a passenger checks in but fails to board the plane.
For bonus bragging rights, everything from the streamlined check-in kiosks to the byte-packing bag tags themselves have been designed by Marc New-son (best known for creating Qantas’ SkyBed international business class seat, its A380 economy class seat and the airline’s swanky first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne).
Qantas hopes that technology will provide a high-tech cure for check-in headaches and has gone as far as promising that check-ins will take place within five seconds – once you’ve made your way to the head of the inevitable queue, of course.
Australian Business Traveller has a list of the top 5 things you need to know about Qantas Next-Generation Checkin and a Giz-inspired ‘unboxing’ of the Next-Gen Kit showing the new smartcard and bag tags.
For more on the latest in travel, visit Australian Business Traveller